Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elf Hanging Out

Hanging in there until the toys are made...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 8

Tired of dining alone, he invited his best dog friend to join him, and served her a snack using the good china.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Elf off the shelf day 7

Naughty elf with a sidekick.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elf off the shelf day 6

Discouraged by the lack of actual snow, our elf took matters into his own hands.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elf off the shelf day 5

Day 5

Someone wanted a snack.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Elf off the shelf

By now we all know the December tradition of elf on the shelf. We wanted to shake things up a bit with Ned as the elf off the shelf. Over the next month, we will be recreating popular elf poses, making up some new ones, and generally having fun. And yes, we already owned the suit. Don't ask.

Day one

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I'm not sure how to even start this other than saying that we are learning so much.  So so so much.  We are currently a family of seven.  Seven. Foster care is an incredibly unique place to be.  For the children. for the parents, for the families all around.  You instantly have this new personality in the mix who you had nothing to do with raising, teaching, guiding, loving.  And then BAM. It's all you.  I am going to be brutally honest here.  It has not been fun.  It has been harder than hard.  I never thought I would dread getting up in the morning for so many mornings in a row.  I never dreamed that a two year old could make me feel this way. Not to mention I cannot even begin to fathom how hard it has been for him to have everything, everything he has ever known gone in a matter of minutes. So we have been at it for nearly seven weeks, and now things are changing.  We are all learning.  We have been intensely therapeutic.  Intentional in every single action and expression.  Unwavering in showing love, even if we were faking it.  And in the beginning, oh, we were faking it.  It is hard to have loving feelings for a child who does nothing but scream and spit.  It is hard to show love to a child who just cries and whines and throws things for hours on end.  Who grunts instead of using words.  Who dumps full bowl of cereal on the floor because it isn't the thing he wants for breakfast.  Who hits and bites and headbutts the children who already live here and makes them feel unhappy. Oh, it is hard.  But after a few weeks of non stop work, modeling every second, showing much kindness, and making expectations crystal clear, things started to change.  More smiles, less screaming.  More acceptance of hugs and cuddles, less things thrown across the room.  More following direction, less trying to get a reaction for things that he knows are unacceptable.  Less testing, more playing.  And something else has changed.  My girls have all gone from frustrated, shocked girls and have made this incredible leap to involved, caring, tiny little therapists.  It is the most awe inspiring thing I have ever seen.  They have gone from telling me they just want to make him go to bed, to showing him the way to act. Modeling for him. They still get frustrated, we all do, but I keep hearing them say over and over again, "he is like this because no one taught him how he is supposed to be." and "We have to teach him that he is safe" and even, "I'll be sad when he leaves".  I watched Lilly this morning peel a Clementine and feed him each section one at a time, and with each piece she would say, "orange, please" and wait for him to say the words before popping the segment into his mouth, and telling him good job using his words.  She is amazing.  My children have surprised me.  We have all gone from thinking this was super crazy hard and questioning whether or not to do this again, to looking forward to seeing who comes along next.  We are all working hard together to fill in all the holes this guy brought with him and to fill him up with enough love, language and skill to help him along when he goes.  We don't dread the day starting over anymore, and we marvel at the amazing progress he has made.  And it is quite remarkable how far he has come in seven short weeks.  It's kind of remarkable how much we have all changed too. This is hard, incredibly so, and at times completely draining and unrewarding, but oh when the changes come, they make all the hard times seem not so bad, all the frustration becomes a little less.  I've gone from questioning this path, to realizing that it is exactly the one I want to be on.  And the whole family is right there with me, which may be the best part of all.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Today I took three boys, all between 19 mos and newly two to a Well child check for one of the said boys. Last time I did this, I had to wait 51 minutes past our scheduled appointment time before the doctor came in.  Thankfully this isn't usual practice, but it was not fun.  So today I over prepared.  Snacks, toys, puppets, and smarties in case things got dire, therefore ensuring they would be running right on time and I would need none of the things I had packed.  We got in and out quickly. One shot for Neddie, and holy cow he is actually in the 55th percentile for both height and WEIGHT!! you guys, this has been our biggest challenge and he is now doing so so well.  Thank you heavy cream.  So we checked out and I drove to the nearest McDonalds for burgers for the boys as a treat.  I decided to pay for the person behind me.  When I got to the window and told the cashier I wanted to pay for the next person she told me they had just ordered a coffee.  A measly 1.07. I told her I'd like to pay for the person after that as well.  2.66. of course.  So I paid for all three orders, not breaking ten bucks, and drove through.  We picked up our food and I drove to a parking lot adjacent to the McDonalds to hand out the burgers.  Now we drive a giant red Suburban, so its not like we are inconspicuous, but I parked next to a big van anyway.  I hate for people to feel like they have to say thank you if they see me.  I got out of the car to hand a burger back to the third row, and as I am walking back around, the car from behind me in the drive thru line pulls up next to me.  The lady gets out and approaches me and asks me if I was just in line in at McDonalds and did I pay for her.  I told her yes and she starts bawling.  You guys, she was crying so hard and asked me if she could hug me.  Now honestly two things went through my mind. 1. She's going to take my car and my kids, and 2. Holy crap this lady needs some help.  I decided it was probably number two and let her hug me.  She was sobbing that uncontrollable no breathing cry.  My heart was hurting for her but I didn't know what was wrong.  I asked her what I could do to help her.  She told me there was nothing that I could help her with, but that she had just gone through Cancer surgery, her Mother had just passed away, and that her Dad had died in April.  She said that she was having such a hard time with all of it, that it was all too much, and that last night she prayed to God that He would show her that she should still have faith.  Now, I am not revealing my own religious views, but this lady needed a sign, and for her, having a stranger buy her a coffee anonymously was that sign.  She thanked me profusely, hugged me again and walked back to her car.  You guys, this coffee that I was so bummed wasn't "more" changed a woman's whole day around.  Made her weep right there with a stranger in a parking lot.  She gave me a lot to think about today.  I am so glad I stopped, so glad I thought to pay for a stranger, so glad I had a kid in the way back today, so glad I could do something that moved someone today.  Today is a good day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Story of Ned

This blog has been quiet for quite some time, but there is a reason for that.  I blog about my family, my friends, the things that I love.  There was a huge part of my life I could not share, until now.  The story is long and somewhat winding, but here it is, the best I can do.

Two years ago at almost this exact time of year I got a phone call from a friend who I knew for a very long time (OK, since I was 2) and due to life circumstances, we had grown apart.  She called me because she had turned her life around and was expecting her first child within a few weeks.  We began speaking and I slowly started to feel good about her again.  Her baby was born in July, seemingly healthy and she was very happy.  After many phone calls and a few weeks, (and a story that I will not share here because it is not mine to share) she asked me if we would care for her son temporarily.  We said yes right away and he came to stay with us. He was five weeks old. Over the next five weeks, we grew to love him and treat him as if he was our own child.  Also during this time, she said repeatedly that she wanted him to stay with us, to grow up with us, to have a Mom and a Dad, to have three sisters.  We said yes to all of that.  And then she changed her mind.  We were heart broken.  We were not sure he would be okay with her, but also had no say in the matter, so with many tears we sent him home.  Thankfully some family moved in with her and all is fairly well now. 

A few weeks went by, and we slowly healed. Around the end of October I could no longer just sit with my thoughts of other children.  I knew that I did not want to carry any more, but that I wanted our family to grow.  My husband, my wonderfully understanding, supportive, amazingly enthusiastic about most of my ideas, jumped right on board.  We would become foster parents.  We attended all of the classes, did all of the fire marshall checks, had a home study, filled out medical forms, set up a bedroom, and finally became licensed foster parents.  We chose to accept up to two children under age 4. We also made it clear that our intention was adoption.  While in foster care, the primary goal is family reunification, case workers generally have a pretty good idea about which way a case is headed.  There are no guarantees, but they usually try to look at the desire of the family (foster only or adoption) if possible when placing children. This whole process took about six months.  We received our license on St. Patrick's day.  Every day the phone didn't ring was disappointing.  We went about our lives, and tried to be patient.  After all, if we weren't getting calls, there wasn't a child being abused or neglected. (Not that there weren't children in trouble, but you know...) 14 days after we became licensed, my phone rang.  It was March 31, early afternoon.  Our home study worker called us and said that a baby boy had been born twenty minutes earlier, gave us as much history and information as she had on the family situation, and asked if we would accept him.  I said yes, without a moment of hesitation.. She told me that someone would call us later that afternoon when all of the court paperwork had been done so we could go up and start bonding with the baby right away.  I ended up calling her back around 4:00 because I had still not heard from anyone, but there was no new news.  Tortuously, we went to bed without having met our little guy, and also under a blizzard watch.  The next morning was Friday, April first and we woke up to school closed, and all state and county government closed.  This meant we would have to wait until Monday to meet our boy!  We live as close as you can get to the hospital he was in and we could not get there to see him because the paperwork hadn't been finished.  It was the longest weekend of our lives.  I have never been so unhappy to have a surprise three day weekend.  April Fools day it was indeed.  We spent the weekend getting ready for his arrival.  We didn't know anything but a first name.  We didn't know if he was a preemie (he was, by six(ish) weeks), if he was born addicted to anything (he was not), if he was healthy(he was, but had some feeding issues being so early).  We just knew that we couldn't wait to meet him and to kiss his sweet face.  Monday finally rolled around and I heard from the case worker around 10:00.  She told me I could head up to the hospital to meet him any time.  I dropped Maya off with a friend and hurried up there.  I arrived about twenty minutes later.  He was in the continuing care nursery, I told them who I was and they sent me right in.  He was alone in a bassinet, all swaddled with a cap on.  He looked exactly how I thought he would.  This is the moment I first saw him.
This baby would change us in so many ways.  He was in the hospital for eleven days and then came home with us.  In the days we waited to bring him home, I spent every moment I could there with him.  Friends and family took our other kids while Will was at work and they weren't at school and I spent hours with him sleeping on my chest, reading Harry Potter out loud so he could learn my voice.  The girls came to visit every day and were so excited to have a baby to hold.  *I am going to break in here and just say that there are parts of his story I will not put here, because he should get to decide who to tell and when and what*
When he came home, due to the circumstance of his case, we had to bring him to visits occasionally, but they didn't last long.  We were falling in love with this amazing boy.  Foster care is hard.  You are asked to give all the love you have to a person who might not get to stay.  It is beautiful, difficult, stress inducing, wildly hard and ever changing, but absolutely worth it.  I developed this insane, intense outrageously bold sense of protection for this little boy, this tiny baby who might not be my son one day. He was today, and I loved him like he was.  It's funny, people say there is no difference in the love for a child who is born to you and a child who isn't.  I disagree.  I love ALL my children equally, but completely differently.  I cannot describe the love I had built for him. Desperate, fierce, consuming are all appropriate and accurate and that is such a scary thing to feel you might lose.  Thankfully, the months went by fairly uneventfully.  The goals for the birth family continued to go unmet, despite many attempts and much support.  In January, When he was nine months old, the judge terminated the rights of his biological parents and we began paperwork to adopt him.  He was definitely a part of our family.  We could not remember what it was like before he came.  We still had visits from his caseworker once a month, and his guardian ad litem every three, but things were smooth going at this point.  There was always a chance that the adoption wouldn't happen, because with foster care nothing is final until it's final, but when we got our court date to finalize his adoption it was a very good day.  We started a countdown 40 days out from our date and our friends all jumped in to help.  This was one of my very favorite shows of support we had along the way.  It means so much that we are so loved by so many.  This has been such a journey.  Many months of never being able to take a deep breath, much love for an amazing little boy, many lessons about giving everything up to the universe and having faith that things will work out the way they were meant to, lots of good thoughts from people we love, and lots of love and support sent to his first family who will miss out on life with the most wonderful boy.  I think about his first mother quite often. I wonder how often she thinks of him, and if she misses him. I always give him an extra kiss when I put him to bed, for her.  Whatever went on in her life to bring her to where she is now, I mourn for her because she is missing out on something indescribable, a boy like no other.  A funny, silly, sweet, truck obsessed, animal loving boy who has lit up our world. 

On July 18, 2012 Ned became our son officially, on paper, and in the eyes of the law. Of course for us he always was.